Q: Since Texas, the LEDs have displayed the car numbers only. What’s up? It’s a neat feature but it seems that they’ve had a lot of trouble with it for most of the past two seasons.
Dan E., St. Louis, MO
RM: The creator has not been able to solve the technical glitches.
Q: I’ve seen the term “business-to-business” but have never understood what it means, how it works, etc. Your reference to “client entertainment” in the Mailbag from last week gave me a clue. However, it would seem to me that paying several million a year to entertain clients at a few races, that is, at venues not wildly popular along the lines of the Super Bowl or World Series or World Cup, is not a very big-bang-for-buck ratio with the exception of the Indy 500. Therefore, there is obviously more to B-to-B than just client entertainment. And given that some of these sponsors have been around for years and that they are in business to maximize profits from every possible corner of their respective organizations, the corporate accountants must be convinced that the ROI makes sponsorship well worth the cost. Please elaborate on what B-to-B means and/or how it’s done and/or any examples of which you are aware.
RM: It can be a relationship with somebody like Penske and a company he does a lot of business with and, in return, it sponsors his car – like maybe Shell. Or it can be as simple as treating your clients and employees to a weekend or a day at the track like ABC Supply or Arrow.
Q: Just to carry on with the recent thread of topics in the Mailbag, the NASCAR/IndyCar double-header idea. It has already happened, and has done for a few years now. Granted, the NASCAR names are not Busch or Harvick or Logano, but they are Alex Tagliani and Andrew Ranger and JP Dumoulin, and the races are on a street course, not an oval, but the Toronto Indy has featured the Canadian Pinty’s NASCAR races as a headliner on Saturdays for years. It has enjoyed tremendous turnout for both races, and in my main grandstand at least, it is equally well attended by both NASCAR and IndyCar fans on both days.
Paul Sturmey, Ontario, Canada
RM: USAC did it back in the ’60s and ’70s with stock cars and Indy cars, but the only way it’s ever going to catch the public’s attention and get a media blitz is with NASCAR and IndyCar sharing the track.
Q: I just read in the Mailbag that Will Power is now an American citizen. Does that mean he will be considered an American driver in the series and show the U.S. flag instead of the Australian flag? I don’t really care either way, just curious.
RM: I imagine he’s a dual citizen, so he’s still Australian, but now he has U.S. citizenship as well.
Q: Why did Rene Binder not sign on for more races with Juncos this year? He’s been doing the IMSA endurance races with Juncos, but we’ve heard nothing about him returning to IndyCar. It’s not exactly a loss to the series to not have a driver of his caliber circling around in the back, but it is a loss to not have a Juncos car on the grid for a few more races. Did he realize that he was uncompetitive and give up? Did his family cut off some of his funds? Did he fail to pass IndyCar’s new licensing requirements?
RM: I have no idea. I don’t know Binder but, to your point, IndyCar needs Ricardo Juncos because he’s a racer to the core and all in for the Road to Indy. I know he’d love to find the funds to develop Kyle Kaiser’s career but maybe Rinus Veekay (who won a Lights race at Road America and is second in the points) can find sponsorship as he advances.
Q: I just wanted to add that former IndyCar driver and current Trans Am 2 champion Rafa Matos recently became a very proud American citizen. Please feel free to use the picture I took of Rafa with both the U.S. and Brazilian flags by his name on the Camaro.
RM: Thanks. Always liked Rafa and he was a good shoe, but just needed more backing to stay in IndyCar.
Q: Do you think we will see the track record fall at Indy anytime in the near future (next five-10 years) or is IndyCar content will capping the speeds at 230-232 mph?
Kevin, Dayton, OH
RM: When the horsepower reaches 900 I think it’s certainly possible, depending on the downforce levels, but I really don’t think it’s a big deal like it was in the ’60s-’70s-’80s-’90s when we cared about “new track records” and qualifying was packed.
Q: Great season so far. I’d like to switch gears back to Indy. It was great the way the month of May was all focused on Mario’s win 50 years ago. I think the Speedway should do something similar each year with other greats. Obviously A.J., then Mears, the Unsers, Lone Star J.R. and so on. It just adds another storyline to the month. What do you think?
Craig Stewart, Paoli, IN
RM: There was a wonderful display of A.J.’s cars at the IMS museum in 2017 and the Unsers were featured in 2018 – ditto for Penske in 2016. But I definitely think the three four-timers along with J.R. and Uncle Bobby should be feted in similar style to Mario.